Types Of Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Treatment Programs

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 9, 2021

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs can be an excellent part of a comprehensive plan to treat addiction. Levels of outpatient addiction treatment programs vary, but should be customized to fit each individual’s treatment needs.

Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Outpatient treatment can be useful in treating mild to moderate substance use disorders, or for those who need follow-up care after attending an inpatient program.

There are various types of outpatient addiction treatment programs, including:

  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • 12-step support groups
  • other outpatient aftercare treatments

For those with severe drug or alcohol use disorders, inpatient treatment is typically considered the most effective treatment option.

Outpatient programs, however, can be useful at all levels of recovery for those who are committed to their sobriety.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs are the most intensive type of outpatient program.

Who Will Benefit From Partial Hospitalization?

Once a person with a severe addiction has finished residential treatment, they may still need addiction treatment but may no longer need full-time care.

PHPs work well for those who need to continue treatment at a step-down level.

Partial hospitalization programs also work well for people who experience relapse after completing inpatient treatment.

Treatment for relapse may involve methods used in inpatient treatment but may not need to be as intense, and that’s where PHPs come in.

How Partial Hospitalization Programs Work

These programs allow for treatment of about six to eight hours, three to five days a week.

Within PHPs, participants will attend treatment for their specified number of days and hours, returning home at night.

Because treatment takes up a good portion of the participant’s day, there is a higher chance of adhering to treatment principles.

PHP Treatment Methods

Treatment methods used in partial hospitalization programs may involve many of the same methods utilized during inpatient treatment.

These treatment methods can include:

  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • individual/group counseling
  • behavioral therapy
  • medication management
  • support groups

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are the next level of outpatient programs following partial hospitalization programs.

Who Will Benefit From Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient programs work well for those who may need long-term care for severe addiction.

IOPs also work well for those in relapse who have already attended inpatient or partial hospitalization programs and only need reminders of treatment principles to move forward with recovery.

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How Intensive Outpatient Programs Work

IOPs are structured similarly to PHPs, but occur less frequently.

Intensive outpatient programs for addiction treatment may occur anywhere from two to four hours per day, two to three days per week.

Some IOPs may involve medication management and therapy only, where others may integrate counseling, therapy, and support group participation.

IOP Treatment Methods

Depending on the rehab facility that offers the IOP, a number of treatment methods may be used in the program.

These may involve many of the same treatments used in a PHP, but with a specific focus on each individual’s need.

Because of the lesser time-frame for treatment, it’s important that each participant have access to the methods which work best for him or her.

12-Step Support Groups

Twelve-step support groups are founded on the original principles of the 12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous, which ask participants to admit their powerlessness over their addiction and surrender to a higher power.

How 12-Step Support Groups Work

Not all 12-step-based groups ask participants to submit to a higher power, but they do incorporate the 12 steps or some version of them.

Many of these steps ask participants to:

  • remain sober throughout recovery
  • forgive themselves and others
  • stop trying to change things over which they have no control

Instead, 12-step support groups ask participants to focus on moving forward through growth, forgiveness, and changing their thought processes.

Benefits Of 12-Step Groups

Twelve-step support groups can be an important component of an aftercare plan, helping people with long-term recovery goals by holding them accountable.

People in 12-step groups may benefit from:

  • meeting peers in these groups
  • hearing their stories
  • connect with them to form lasting relationships which lend to the fulfilling life necessary for addiction recovery

Other Outpatient Aftercare Treatments

Outpatient addiction treatment is often a form of aftercare for inpatient treatment.

Many rehab centers may offer connections to outpatient care, such as:

Alumni Groups

These rehab-specific groups allow individuals to connect with peers who may have been in treatment at the same time, or who attended the same rehab center.

By connecting with peers who hold similar recovery goals, participants receive strength and support.

Continued Care And Relapse Prevention

Some inpatient rehab centers may include continued care and relapse prevention programs as part of their inpatient programs, or may offer them to alumni at a reduced cost.

These addiction treatment programs include inpatient treatment principles and help keep individuals on track with recovery goals.

Local Addiction Recovery Resources

Outpatient treatment near a person’s residence may be available. The best rehab centers will aid individuals in finding local treatment resources prior to returning home to prevent relapse and aid in recovery.

These may include local substance abuse and mental health counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, and support groups.

Sober Living Homes

One other form of outpatient treatment is sober living homes. Some of these structured residences require participants to attend treatment, addiction education classes, or both while adhering to the rules of the house and community.

Such rules usually hold that a participant must:

  • remain sober during their stay at the house
  • attend classes and complete their treatment program
  • hold a job or attend school
  • abide by curfew
  • participate in household chores, responsibilities, or social activities

Sober living homes may be an excellent choice for those who have completed several forms of treatment and are ready to reintegrate into society, but who also want to commit to a sober lifestyle. Such homes offer full support of peers and “house mothers” who sponsor sobriety, offer emotional strength, and can help individuals connect to the right recovery resources when needed.

Paying For Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab

Depending on a person’s insurance plan, private insurance carriers may cover outpatient treatment for addiction.

Insurance Coverage For Outpatient Rehab Programs

Many insurance plans require that a person first attend an outpatient program before moving on to inpatient treatment.

For this reason, it’s important to speak to an insurance coverage specialist before enrolling in a treatment program to ensure treatment will be covered.

If outpatient treatment is required first, it will be important to select a program that best fits the needs of the individual.

Paying For Costs Not Covered By Insurance

Outpatient addiction treatment may incur co-pays, and deductibles may have to be met before coverage can take place.

Some rehab centers offer sliding scale payment plans or private scholarships to help you cover the cost.

You could use a savings account to pay for treatment, considering your recovery a long-term investment.

Or, you may be able to find a spot in a free rehab program in your state.

Length Of Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs

Outpatient programs vary in length according to the type of program, rehab facility that offers it, and patient need.

However, most programs run from one to three months.

Participants can choose to re-enter programs as needed depending on insurance coverage and individual treatment needs.

The intensity of treatments, treatments used, and number of days and hours a person will spend in an outpatient program depends on several factors.

These include:

  • the person’s severity of addiction
  • drug of abuse
  • any co-occurring substance use or mental health disorders
  • whether they are in treatment for relapse or as a form of continuing care

Why Choose Outpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs?

People may choose outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs for several reasons, the most common of which may be as a step down after inpatient care.

Because addiction is a disease that will require long-term management, it’s best treated on a spectrum that involves varying levels of treatment.

Outpatient treatment programs allow individuals to receive the continuing care necessary for a lasting recovery while getting back to the responsibilities of daily life.

Find An Outpatient Program Near You Today

Outpatient treatment can be an effective part of a comprehensive plan to help you reach long-term recovery.

For more information on outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs, or to find addiction treatment that’s right for you, contact us today.

Find outpatient treatment in a state near you:

This page does not provide medical advice. See more
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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 9, 2021

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